The firm acquired the site after its £71m takeover of Contego in November along with another facility in the UK and one in the Netherlands.
The deal was part of the company’s European plans, with a deal for Å&R Carton for €19m announced in the same month.
Production at the Gillingham factory centres around packaging for the food industry and closure has been muted for 30 September 2013.
FoodProductionDaily.com was unable to reach Graphic Packaging for more information before deadline.
However, a spokesman for the firm told UK media that since the acquisition they had been conducting an assessment of manufacturing needs to support customers and secure future growth across Europe.
“Regretfully, Graphic Packaging has announced a possible closure of the Gillingham facility with the potential loss of 170 jobs. The company is consulting with all involved including Unite the Union and the Graphic Packaging employee information and consultation committee on this proposal.
“Gillingham has been justifiably proud of its ability to produce high quality products for the food industry; however, the company has recognised that the Gillingham facility does not play the same role in its larger organisation.”
He added that the full details of the closure are not yet decided but business activities will continue as normal.
“The majority of work currently being carried out in Gillingham will likely transfer to the sister facility in Leeds, and will preserve and potentially increase jobs and skills at this site; however, we are also discussing some reductions in specific roles in Leeds as we optimise across European manufacturing facilities.
“These are always difficult decisions, but it is a necessary step in the company’s continuous efforts to effectively align and optimise its supply chain footprint.
“We do realise the impact of this decision on our team members; their families and their communities and we remain committed to providing assistance under our policies to help mitigate the impact of this decision where possible.”
Unite slam decision
Unite slammed the decision, adding that at a time when unemployment is high and good jobs hard to find, employers should be going out of their way to find the best deal possible for workers who have given years of loyalty.
The company has already begun the 45 day consultation period with Unite and the union is urging the company to look at all possibilities for re-location and the best possible deal for the workforce.
Unite national officer Ian Tonks said: "This is a very difficult time for the workforce and they have a right to be angry that they face redundancy. Unite will be demanding the company does everything possible to support the workers affected.”